Arkansas is developing an important wind manufacturing cluster that appears to have achieved the momentum to continue to draw in investment into the region. The wind sector is examined in more detail in its own sub-section below.
The state also has a strong and growing biofuels industry. It has four biodiesel plants that produce an aggregate of 70 million gallons per year and one biogas (biomethane) plant as well. Future Fuel Chemical Company based in Batesville, Arkansas with corporate headquarters in Missouri is now listed on the NYSE ticker symbol (FF).
Arkansas based suppliers of power and cooling systems components are also one of the main manufacturers supplying geothermal energy facilities in the wester states with the best hot geothermal resources. So even though Arkansas is not itself a geothermal energy producer of significance geothermal energy related jobs are being created there.
The Pew Center of The States Clean Economy Report provides these green economy employment numbers for Arkansas: For the year 2007 it reports that there were 448 green or cleantech businesses in the state; green sector employment stood at: 4,597 . The number of green jobs in Alabama averaged a 7.8% growth rate for the decade (1998- 2007), which compares favorably with the overall average job growth of 3.5% for the same decade. In the two year period from 2006-2008 there was over $22 million in venture capital invested in cleantech green economy ventures in the state.
Arkansas has one biomass plant. according to the US Biomass Association a typical 30 MW biopower plant employs about 120 workers (in plant and outside). This translates into about 7,000 jobs at the nation’s existing biomass facilities, plus another 7,000 jobs outside the plants, mainly in economically depressed rural areas. If a 25% Renewable Electricity Standard is put in place, it is estimated that 297,000 jobs will be created by the biomass industry by 2025.
Arkansas has been successful in attracting a growing cluster of large manufacturers of wind components to build facilities and also announce projects in the state, bringing in millions of dollars of renable energy investment and know how into the state and its emerging wind energy services and manufacturing hub. The most important market for this growing manufacturing hub is the big wind farms in Texas. Six global and US wind manufacturing companies have invested over $400 million in Arkansas and created over 3,000 jobs in the state and additional plants are becoming attracted by those already there.
A few of the major wind-related manufacturing facilities,that are either already in operation or under construction or that have been announced:
• Nordex USA, Inc., which is a leading manufacturer of utility-scale wind turbines. It has sited a $100 million million manufacturing facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas, breaking ground in 2009. The plant is expected to begin full operation in 2014 and will provide 700 skilled jobs.
• LM Wind Power, a Danish wind turbine blade manufacturer. It has a plant in Little Rock, that opened in 2008 and that is expected to provide employment for more than 1,000 workers by 2015 when it reaches full capacity.
• Polymarin Composites USA announced that it is opening a wind blade manufacturing unit at a closed Levi’s distribution center in south Little Rock. The plant is expected to be producing wind blades at full capacity within four years.
• Wind Water Technology has announced that it is siting a nacelle manufacturing facility in Little Rock
• Mitsubishi, has announced that it is building a $100 million wind turbine assembly plant that will employ more than 300 people and begin production in 2012. The facility will be located on a 90 acre site in Chaffee Crossing
• At least three other companies in Arkansas currently provide components for wind turbines and one additional wind-related facility announced.
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